Newbie Question: MM v. MC cartridges?

It seems to me that most of the cartridges being sold now are MC as opposed to moving magnet. Why? What are the audible differences between the two types? Is one more reliable or longer lasting than the other? How does one know what output one should be using.

My cartrridge is a clear audio MM with a high output, 3.6 mV, I think. Using a little EAR phono amp that has capability for both type of carts. Am I missing out on something by not being on the MC bandwagon? I must add that I'm really pretty happy with the clear audio's sound and performance.

Thanks for any input.
I wouldn't say that most pickups are MC these days--there are still a fine selection of each, in widely varying price ranges. Clearaudio makes excellent MMs, as do Grado, Dynavector, and a number of others.

On the other hand, I could conjecture that MCs have been gaining in popularity with the wide disappearance of typical MM stages in low-end gear. Vinyl has gotten to be more "high-end" oriented, and in the high-end camp you're much mroe likely to find enthusiasts who own the high gain stages necessary for the low output of fine MC cartridges.

I'll let people with more experience talk about sonic difference, but I will say that in my limited experience, I have heard good MMs sound very similar to MCs...
Generally speaking, yes you're missing out. Most of the top carts are MC, although there are certainly some nice MM out there. The ear phono stage is a good one, and with a nice table, you will certainly hear a difference.
Check the archives and you'll see lots of discussion over cartridge loading. You need to make sure that any cart you buy is a good match with your phono stage. Alternatively, you could buy a step-up transformer which will help with lower output cartridges.
The FAQ here and on audioasylum's analog forum will be helpful. Cheers,
There are quite a few MM cartridges out there. In addition to those cited by Dirtyraggamuffin, Goldring, Garrott Brothers, Musicmaker, Roksan, Audio Technica & Ortofon make some very nice & very price-worthy MM cartridges.

W.r.t. MC cartridges: Depends on what you want out of your system. MC cartridges, in general, are about a more refined sound. The construction of the MC cart. allows this vs. a MM cart. Tradtional MC cartridges are low output & this is done primarily to make it a better groove tracker, which is how it gets its better ability to read the groove info.

As audiophiles progress in this hobby their hearing tends to get refined, in general, & they tend to congregate towards MC cartridges. However, some of the newer Grado Statement 0.5mV MM cartridges are very refined MM cartridges! If you heard one you'd know what I'm talking about.

As you well know, refined sound costs money hence the MC cartridges tend to be expensive. It makes sense to use a MC cart. if your TT system is resolving enough that it will allow the transporting the wealth of info picked up the cart. to the phono preamp. Further, the electronics must also be of fairly high caliber to allow this info to get thru the speakers & to your ear. Needless to say the speakers must be very good too. Otherwise, you end up w/ mediocre sound & you ask yourself if all that expense was worth it! An explanation is very general terms, IMHO.
I didn't even see the FAQ section for the analog, thanks. Sorry in advance, for bringing up an old and well traversed topic!

Given the price of qualtiy cartridges, I'll be with the clear audio virtuso for a good while!

Again, sorry to retread the topic.

It is usually assumed that spending more money on MCs brings an all-round improvement in sound. This isn't necessarily so, and as one who personally owned true legendary high-end MCs and still owns and uses them, I can say that with the increase in clarity (usually at the expense of a touch or more than a touch of brightness, even in today's modern designs), comes a consequent loss of subtle timing information which I believe MMs better communicate overall. Also MMs simply sound more "meaty", rounded, visceral. At this point in my audiophile life, if I was forced to choose between living with MCs or living with MMs, I would go MM, currently either the Shure V15VxMR (a master at timing and bass and neutrality - far more so than any MC I've ever heard) or a Grado Woody (master at retrieving a believable resonance and decay), not having heard the Clearaudio. There are many others as well with very high-end systems who also prefer the sound of MMs. More research is needed, as untested assumptions still hide all over the place. Refinement is only a small and relatively unimportant - musically - part of the story.
I agree with Johnnantais, particularly about the Shure, which currently resides on my JMW 10.5 arm where a Grado Reference/Reference used to be. I've listened to a lot of MC carts in my systems and others and their "magic" continues to elude me. Maybe a character flaw.
I always seem to second the Shure V15VxMR recommendation of Johnnantais. There is a single source which sells it for $200, shipping included. It was mentioned in past postings discussing the Shure, and makes for an easy decision when considering cost versus benefits.
Excellent tracking ability at low stylus pressure preserves the vinyl, and a uniform frequency response into the high frequency range avoids listener fatigue. The Shure's unforced musicality lets analog fans on a budget avoid MC envy.